red stamp reading "deferred" over an image of a teenage girl sitting on her bed looking at her laptop

Deferred…What to do next!

Like many seniors this year, you put in the extra time and effort to get your applications perfected before Early Action deadlines. This is no small feat, and you should be enormously proud of yourself. But, like many of your peers, you may have opened your admission decision email over the last few weeks to read: DEFERRED.

What exactly does “deferred” mean? After a holistic review of your application, the college admissions team couldn’t make a decision either way. They want more time to compare your application to Regular Decision applicants and to deliberate over how to best round out their freshman class. For many of you, this can be an advantage; often the regular decision pool is not as strong as the Early Action pool and you now have an opportunity to update admissions on your most recent accomplishments. For others, this gives you a chance to reevaluate your college list and decide how to move forward. 

For 2021 applicants, deferral rates were higher than ever. Even given the uncertainty of college admissions during the COVID era, Early Action applications hit record numbers. Tulane reported an 11% increase in the EA round this year. The University of Colorado-Boulder saw an increase of nearly 20%!

Tulane explains what happens next: “There are two major factors that will come into play from here on out: one is within your control and the other is not.”

Let’s start with the factor that is out of your control. Tulane goes on to explain how “yield,” the number of students who say yes when offered admission, will impact your admission in the next round. “If our deposits [from EA offers] come in stronger than in the past, it will be more challenging for deferred students to be admitted … We could fill up multiple freshman classes with students who are academically qualified. The problem is that we can’t admit all of them.” 

Now, even though it feels like you’re stuck playing the waiting game, there are things you can do. And that brings us to the things that are within your control.

First, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Given my other acceptance offers, am I still interested in attending?
  • Do I have recent accomplishments that will enhance my application?
  • Did my fall semester grades increase my cumulative GPA or further highlight my ability to succeed academically?

If you answered yes to each of these questions, you should reach out to admissions and reiterate your continued interest. Many schools will even provide a link to check off your wish to remain under consideration and a tool to upload your most recent transcript.

Or, you can draft a letter to your admissions officer. Here are some useful tips on what to include:

What to include in your letter of continued interest:
  1. Introduction
    Extend a thank-you here to the admissions committee for the considerable time they have already spent reviewing your application. Let them know how much you still want to attend.
  2. New Accomplishments
    Here, you’ll provide information about your accomplishments since your original application. Have you been selected a captain of your athletic team? Did you finish your AP research project?
  3. Personal Element
    Include an anecdote here…did you recently visit campus or have a conversation with a current student? Did you read an article regarding their business school that excites you even more?
  4. Your Updated Transcript
    This can be an unofficial transcript that includes your fall semester grades.
My final tip:

If this school is your top choice, TELL THEM! It goes back to yield. Colleges want to accept students who they think will accept an offer of admission.

Lastly, don’t be discouraged. A deferral means that colleges saw something great about you in your application!

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